Here we go again. Today is the day on which trans people all over the world are supposed to stand up and be counted. Already I have seen a flood of posts on social media celebrating the visibility of trans folks. I’m also seeing posts from trans people saying that they are fed up of being visible; that they are scared of being visible. Part of that is because the world has changed dramatically since TDOV was first concieved, but it is also a matter of how we do TDOV.
A little context is in order. TDOV was created because the only international day that the trans community had was the Trans Day of Remembrance. That’s a pretty depressing, if essential, experience, and it is also one many trans people want kept within the community. It is noticeable that anti-trans extremists now deliberately target TDOR in order to provoke offence and, they hope, mental health breakdowns. We needed a much more positive day.
TDOV is supposed to be that day. However, since it has become popular it has started to have the opposite effect that was intended. That, I think, is because in trying to make trans people more visible, it has ended up as an exercise of They Walk Among Us, which makes us seem different and scary.
Now it is important that trans people be visible. I’m certainly not advocating that we go back to the days of having to disappear into the cis population and fearing that your life will be over if you are ever outed. I’ve been through that fear. It isn’t fun. Not can we pretend that we are “just like everyone else”, because clearly we are not, especially those of us who live far outside the gender binary.
What we do need, however, is to be visible for things other than simply being trans. And there’s no reason why we can’t be, because trans people are fucking awesome. We have to be.
What I would like to see today, therefore, is not just trans people being visible, but trans people visibly doing things in addition to existing. That can be the day-to-day work that they do, but it would be even better to see what trans people are doing to help the community through the current health crisis. I’m sure there are loads of great stories out there waiting to be told. I’ll start.
- I’m still working with The Diversity Trust, most recently doing an online talk on trans history for an LGBT+ youth group;
- Through Wizard’s Tower I am helping authors continue in business when mainstream publishing and bookselling are collapsing around them;
- Wizard’s Tower is also putting out a series of free-to-read short fiction to help people stay entertained during lockdown;
- And I’m still doing my radio show for Ujima. The next one will be broadcast tomorrow.
Over to you, trans community. What are you doing that you would like to be visible for?
And cis folks, if you are thinking of doing posts, please stop thinking of trans people as a downtrodden minority that needs saving, and start thinking of us as hidden heroes whose contributions to society should be recognised.